Posts Tagged ‘ Wii ’

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter Review

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When I was a child I was desperate to be able to draw well. While a friend of mine could concoct fantastic creations, I was stuck with stick men. I tried for years upon years to improve my artistic talent, and it just never really happened. Eventually I took the sensible route and left my ridiculously talented friend to his drawings, while I focused on writing the stories to go alongside the artwork. So when I realised that Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter involved a fair bit of drawing, I could feel the childhood horrors returning. Luckily for those of you who, like me, can’t draw anything more impressive than a stick insect, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter doesn’t rely on drawing as much as perhaps it would have liked.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter has already drawn (no pun intended) some parallels to Little Big Planet and I can see why in a way. Unfortunately it’s a much weaker interpretation of Little Big Planet and for the most part it’s an insult to the LBP name to suggest such a link. Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter really doesn’t have the imagination for it.

Playing the game is very simple with a series of platforming levels to be traversed in a very linear fashion. Movement is conducted via the nunchuk with a simple tap of A to jump. That’s pretty much it as ‘killing’ any enemies simply involves bouncing on their head: all very generic platformerish I know.

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The real twist is where drawing comes into things. At first this is quite fun. Upon clicking on a nearby sign with the Wiimote, the screen changes to a basic drawing screen with a palette of different colours and options. For the lazier gamer (or those who truly can’t draw), there are a few template options to choose from to have a predefined image come up. As I’ve already mentioned, I really can’t draw but I do know how to draw a straight line or basic shapes. However this was much easier said than done with the Wiimote! It was so easy to misalign something simply because of the sensitivity of the Wiimote. At times I found myself trying to rest my arm against the armrest of my sofa simply to keep my arm steady for long enough! Wondering in case it was just me, I tested out the drawing component on my young cousins (9 and 7, both avid Wii and DS gamers). It wasn’t long before tantrums broke out and I decided to separate them from the Wiimote for fear of a terrible accident. One of them mentioned having played the first game on the DS and preferring it because it was easier to draw things with a stylus. She’ll be a reviewer at that rate I reckon, because she’s certainly right! The Wiimote just felt too sensitive to be able to draw anything very accurately, which brought me back to drawing stick things or sticking to the ready made templates.

Drawing is also used to form temporary platforms. Some of these are just solid lines to help you get higher up while others are a little more complex. Red lines react to gravity and gradually float downwards as well as do a few odd things. Green lines form bouncy trampolines which make them useful for jumping on to get to much higher areas. There are a variety of puzzles that use each line type which work quite well but are ultimately as average as the rest of the platforming adventure.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter did have some moments of greatness. At the end of the first thematic area, there is a sort of boss fight against a huge monkey. Everything about it reminded me of a much simpler Donkey Kong. It was a nice homage though. The problem is the greatness seems to be too few and too far between.

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Simply put, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is completely average. It does nothing particularly badly but nor does it do anything particularly well either. It’s a great concept but it’s just not used well enough. The drawing elements feel tacked on and pointless a lot of the time, and with even children getting frustrated by the drawing mechanisms, it’s disappointing. With the likes of Max and the Magic Marker coming soon for Wiiware, if you are desperate for physics based drawing title, it may well be worth waiting to see how that turns out first. For a cheap family platforming fix, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is worth a look but at full price there are so many better family platformers out there, such as Super Mario Galaxy or Lego Star Wars.

Hi-Score – Cool concept.
Lo-Score – Really very, very average.
Final Score – 5 out of 10

Guitar Hero 5 coming September 11th

Well, here it comes, closer each day. Guitar Hero 5 will be with us September 11th.

I for one am looking forward to this one, it’s been a while since I’ve played a great rhythm game and it’s looking like GH5 may give us this greatness. I look forward to seeing my avatar rock out to any of the songs on the setlist;

* 3 Doors Down – “Kryptonite”
* A Perfect Circle – “Judith”
* AFI – “Medicate”
* Arctic Monkeys – “Brianstorm”
* Attack! Attack! UK – “You And Me”
* Band Of Horses – “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands”
* Beastie Boys – “Gratitude”
* Beck – “Gamma Ray”
* Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself”
* Billy Squier – “Lonely Is The Night”
* Blink-182 – “The Rock Show”
* Blur – “Song 2”
* Bob Dylan – “All Along The Watchtower”
* Bon Jovi – “You Give Love A Bad Name”
* Brand New – “Sowing Season (Yeah)”
* The Bronx – “Six Days A Week”
* Bush – “Comedown”
* Children Of Bodom – “Done With Everything, Die For Nothing”
* Coldplay – “In My Place”
* Darker My Love – “Blue Day”
* Darkest Hour – “Demon(s)”
* David Bowie – “Fame”
* Deep Purple – “Woman From Tokyo (’99 Remix)”
* The Derek Trucks Band – “Younk Funk”
* Dire Straits – “Sultans Of Swing”
* The Duke Spirit – “Send A Little Love Token”
* Duran Duran – “Hungry Like The Wolf”
* Eagles Of Death Metal – “Wannabe In L.A.”
* Elliott Smith – “L.A.”
* Elton John – “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”
* Face To Face – “Disconnected”
* Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
* Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.”
* Gov’t Mule – “Streamline Woman”
* Grand Funk Railroad – “We’re An American Band”
* Iggy Pop – “Lust For Life (Live)”
* Iron Maiden – “2 Minutes To Midnight”
* Jeff Beck – “Scatterbrain (Live)”
* Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed American”
* John Mellencamp – “Hurts So Good”
* Johnny Cash – “Ring Of Fire”
* Kaiser Chiefs – “Never Miss A Beat”
* The Killers – “All The Pretty Faces”
* King Crimson – “21st Century Schizoid Man”
* Kings Of Leon – “Sex On Fire”
* Kiss – “Shout It Out Loud”
* Love and Rockets – “Mirror People”
* Megadeth – “Sweating Bullets”
* Mötley Crüe – “Looks That Kill”
* Muse – “Plug In Baby”
* My Morning Jacket – “One Big Holiday”
* Nirvana – “Lithium (Live)”
* Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
* No Doubt – “Ex-Girlfriend”
* Peter Frampton – “Do You Feel Like We Do? (Live)”
* The Police – “So Lonely”
* Public Enemy Featuring Zakk Wylde – “Bring the Noise 20XX”
* Queen & David Bowie – “Under Pressure”
* Queens Of The Stone Age – “Make It Wit Chu”
* The Raconteurs – “Steady As She Goes”
* Rammstein – “Du Hast”
* The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For The Devil”
* Rose Hill Drive – “Sneak Out”
* Rush – “The Spirit Of Radio (Live)”
* Santana – “No One To Depend On (Live)”
* Scars On Broadway – “They Say”
* Screaming Trees – “Nearly Lost You”
* Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
* Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
* Spacehog – “In The Meantime”
* Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”
* Sublime – “What I Got”
* Sunny Day Real Estate – “Seven”
* T. Rex – “20th Century Boy”
* The Sword – “Maiden, Mother & Crone”
* Thin Lizzy – “Jailbreak”
* Thrice – “Deadbolt”
* Tom Petty – “Runnin’ Down A Dream”
* Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “American Girl”
* TV On The Radio – “Wolf Like Me”
* Vampire Weekend – “A-Punk”
* Weezer – “Why Bother?”
* The White Stripes – “Blue Orchid”
* Wild Cherry – “Play That Funky Music”
* Wolfmother – “Back Round”

With all the songs unlocked from the very start you can rock out to your favourites in no time. There has been mention of disappointment of this tracklist, but it’s always a very personal opinion of the player. I personally am looking forward to strumming through Deep Purple, Dire Straits, Gorillaz and more.

If of course you can’t wait to hear these tracks in the game, you can head onto spotify and play the tracklist there instead by clicking HERE

Here’s a few screenshots to keep you going until the 11th.

GH5 Revival Meter!!

Guitar Hero 5 non-HUD Shot

shred up to 4 guitars

Rants: Give Wii’s a Chance!

Contrary to popular belief, the Wii is a video games console. Not an over-inflated toy or “the worlds most expensive boardgame” as it has been called, oh no. The Wii plays computer games, just like every Nintendo console before it.

 I’ve had a lot of conversations with gaming buddies of mine recently, and have been given a lot of flak due to the fact that the Wii is the only current-gen console I own, and the only one I’m really capable of babbling on about. This isn’t the case, I can assure you. The Wii is merely the only one I feel like investing my time in.

My first choice was the Xbox 360, which I promptly picked up at the end of 2006 following my first paycheck at my new job. The 360 stayed neatly tucked under my TV until early last year when I sold it. Why did I sell it you ask? Well, quite simply, I was getting pretty sick of playing the same thing over and over and over and over again.

Games that were hyped until the ends of the earth landed on my doorstep on their release dates, and time after time I found that I had played it all before. Halo 3 was, well, Halo all over again, Assassin’s Creed was one of the most profoundly boring third person adventure games I’ve ever played, and it’s not like stealth hasn’t been done before, and Bioshock, well, at the risk of sounding unpopular, was just another first person shooter.

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I certainly enjoyed my time with my 360 but I hadn’t been “wowed” like I had been with all my consoles before it. Gears of War came very close but this was only because of how gorgeous it looked. Gameplay wise, it was just another shooter.

I think that was my problem. Whereas I used to play anything and everything that came my way, I’ve grown cynical of the whole industry and have become sick and tired of playing the same thing. The 360 had to go, there is just absolutely nothing new.

This is why, I believe, the Wii is the superior of the current gen consoles. Whilst gaming wise, there still aren’t a massive amount of fresh ideas, Nintendo took a massive gamble with a completely motion-orientated control scheme, and almost everything feels new and sparkly under this system. Games like Zelda and Resident Evil have indeed all been done before, but I dare any of you to play the Wii incarnations of these classics and not feel like this is the way games should be going.

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Microsoft and Sony aren’t stupid. They’re well aware that motion controls and accessibility is what’s given the Wii the market edge. This is why things like Project Natal are coming into play, it seems that motion controls are the future, whether you like them or not.

It’s very easy to be blinded by Nintendo’s marketing and target audience. It seems every television or newspaper advert has a family sitting on a sofa playing Mario Galaxy, or Wii Fit or something, and it would seem as though the Wii cannot appeal to the hardcore gamer. I could not feel more opposed to the idea. I’ll admit, I felt very much this way when the Wii was announced. I thought that it was silly and wouldn’t really ever take off. It was only after I sold my 360 and concentrated on the Wii that I saw how much potential it had, and how it really would be the way forward. Games like Twilight princess, No More Heroes and Madworld are utterly stunning examples of how Nintendo’s “over-priced toy” can appeal to the more hardcore gamer too.

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That’s just me though. There are a huge number of gamers out there whose way forward is online play and downloadable content, something that I think the Wii majorly boned on. There is little to no hard drive for DLC, and most online games tend to have horrible lag or no one playing! This isn’t a massive problem for me but would be unforgivable for some. If you’re one of these then it probably isn’t for you.

If, like me though, you’re finding the same old ideas being churned out in new packaging, I really can’t recommend the Wii enough.

So, all you Wii haters, give it a chance. Let it be different, let it be the Kid in the class that wears glasses and stands out a bit. Just because it’s doing things differently and has an unappealing target audience it doesn’t mean it won’t wow you. Maybe pack away your 360 or PS3 for a month or so and just concentrate your efforts on the little white box of wonder. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Feelin’ Casual

Well, other than my addiction to Skate 2 (Read – masochistic desire to destroy myself and all of my controllers) I have been playing more “casual” games this last week. Well to be honest one of said games is ‘Splosion man, which is in some way as masochistic as Skate 2.

For those that aren’t in the know, ‘Splosion man is a puzzle based platformer where you control a man, a radioactive man, who ‘splodes or EXplodes at will. With the press of a button you can ‘splode which will make you jump in the air or blow someone or something up. You are able to ‘splode three times before it recharges and you can ‘splode again. Well, now you know the basics, you need to know the rest.

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It’s hard, VERY hard. At first each level you come across is a whimsical adventure that punches your funny bone. The puzzles are simple and exciting, they challenge your every move. However after time, the challenge is pushed too far and it’s not in the level design (which is exquisite) it’s through adding ridiculous boss battles. I have no problems with boss battles being added into games, but a fucking one hit kill?

Anyway, I think I’ll have to wear the tutu after taking the way of the coward on these boss battles (if possible) otherwise I’m going to go mad! Besides the boss battles, it’s an amazing game. I’m yet to try the co-op mode yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be a blast (sorry, pun)

Wii Sports Resort

Where to start with this one? It’s no secret that I’m no fan of the Wii, I have in the past called it a money printing machine and damned it for polluting the games industry with cheesy childish rubbish. While in part these are still my feelings, those feelings may soon change, why? Motion plus.

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Well, well, well. How you have taken over my gaming time, Bastards! This game is simply one of the funnest (I know, I’m being flippant) games in recent history. Motion plus will be a revolution for the Wii, with the 1:1 movement now bestowed upon us the Wiimote now really feels like the “next gen” control system that it should have been at launch. Supplied in that stupid condom they insist on supplying with Wiimotes now, I ripped that straight off and plugged in the Motion plus. Nintendo have an instructional video on how to attach the motion plus, which describes sliding the Wiimote into the protective jacket. I almost expected them to say pinch the reservoir tip and roll it to the base.

Anyway, I’d already attached it and wanted to jump into the games. What great games they are! The only disappointing game on the disc is cycling. This is mainly due to the ridiculous control method of bouncing the Wiimote and Nunchuck up and down?!? Why? Not even a cycling motion with your hands?

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Besides the rubbish cycling, every other game is fantastic. My personal favourites have to be Basketball and Archery and I really love the Frisbee dog game. Each game is a joy, it may sound like a stupid thing to say when I’ve already mentioned the 1:1 motion tracking, but it really does copy everything you do. Move a sword at an angle to parry, you can parry, shoot the ball too slowly in Basketball and it’ll fall short.

This is by no means a review (one will follow I’m sure) but this game is a must buy if you own a Wii. Obviously if you can get your hands on a second Motion plus the game will get even better as you play with your family and friends. I have put a lot of hours into Resort over only a few days and I’m sure many more to come. A truly fantastic addition to the Wii library.

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Written by Daniel Lipscombe

Written by Daniel Lipscombe

Boom Blox: Bash Party

If there’s anything that can be said about Steven Spielberg, it’s that he’s a bit frickin’ jammy. The guy makes successful movie after successful movie for over 20 years, and as if that isn’t enough for him, he decides to venture into the art of cartoon production. Born of this endeavour is Animaniacs, arguably one of the most successful and funniest cartoons ever made. In roll the dollars, even 13 years after its initial release. A few more successful movies later, Spielberg decides to turn his attention to the video games market – and gives us the absolutely wonderful Boom Blox – an explosive puzzle game unlike any other, which came out on the Wii last year. As much as I love to hate Spielberg, it’s easy to see that he knows what he’s doing.

Boom blox was just asking for a sequel, really. A puzzle game that necessitated throwing explosive balls at towers of chickens and knocking them over was bound to grow a bit of a fanbase (even a bit of a mental one), and those game-making-machines over at EA have been hard at work coming up with new ideas to keep the formula fresh. The result? Boom Blox: Bash Party.

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The formula of the game hasn’t changed one bit – you will be assigned a particularly insane task involving a collection of “blox” that will either need to be moved or destroyed to gain points, achieved using the wiimote as a throwing device. Point the remote at the screen, aim where you want to throw your ball, hold down the A button, and make your throwing motion. Your ball will get lobbed into the screen wherever you may have aimed it, and you can watch the chaos ensue. You may be asked to knock down a tower without letting the sheep fall off it (yes…there are sheep), or you may be asked to throw blocks over into pretty little crystals for points. It’s an incredibly simple concept, but it works very well and is a real hoot. Especially when you get your blox to fall exactly how you want them to.

Bash party expands on the original by adding in a whole wealth of new game ideas. There’s “virus” mode – where you are given a ball that will infect other blocks. If a block gets infected twice, it disappears completely, and depending on the structure, can cause a heck of amount of chaos. Some levels demand that you take down a particular structure in as few virus balls as possible. Trying to figure out the best way of bringing down the construction takes some real thinking, and if you want top marks, you’re going to have to really use your brain, rather than lobbing balls willy-nilly.

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It’s not all weapon-based though. New environments have been brought in as well to take the action even further. There are some levels based in the zero gravity atmosphere of other space. Throw a ball into a stack of blox on earth, and watch the carnage as everything that once stood proud falls to the ground. Do this out in space, and beam with glee as the blox fly out in every different dimension possible. The physics are spectacular, and a real sight to behold.

The game is split into themed areas – almost like an amusement park, and each sector demands different tasks. These can range from a “colour carnival” – where most of the games involve lobbing paintballs at white blocks to turn them different colours. Get three colours in a row, and they disappear! Think De Blob mixed with Columns. Although, rather than falling vertically, the blox fall in real time with real physics, and it just makes things that bit more interesting.  My personal favourite themed area though is “Hero” – you will be asked to perform a different set of tasks as a superhero – either take down the bad guys, or save the damsel in distress. When the damsel is a sheep in a dress, however, things just get a hell of a lot more interesting. Playing a giant game of Jenga to save the life of a little lamb is unlike anything I’ve seen in a game before. And I love it.

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The “create a level” tool makes a welcome return, as if the main meat of the game isn’t enough for you. You can still save levels and send them to your friends, but you can now also upload them to the EA hub for other people to download, and you can download their levels too. Even if you manage to complete the bulk of the game, there are an endless number of possibilities of level design to go back to. Get a friend with the game to share levels with you, and this will take an immense amount of time to exhaust.

Boom Blox: Bash party does everything superbly well. The physics are wonderful and never inconsistent or unfair. The inclusion of colourful animal characters makes every level that much more hilarious and gives you much more room for cruelty (yes, I am guilty of lobbing a bomb at a Gorilla…). The main game appears short at first, but if you want to get the top medals on each level then you’re going to spend an awful amount of time perfecting each one, as they all demand a flawless aim. It’s insane how much I wanted to get the Gold Medals on each level –the game lulls you into a false sense of security, thinking that everything is going to be a walk in the park. This is not the case, and some levels are fiendishly difficult. I couldn’t help coming back for more though. Couple that with the level editor and downloadable content, and Boom Blox: Bash Party will keep you going for a very long time.

Hi-Score – Incredible Physics, Very Funny, Challenging and Addictive

Lo-Score – If you don’t have the internet or any friends, you will exhaust it in about 6 hours.

Final Score – 9 out of 10

StrongBad’s Cool Game for Attractive People

The “Homestar Runner” website has become something of an internet phenomenon. With one of the highest levels of traffic for any cartoon-based website around, and a stonking amount of merchandise, it seems that people can’t seem to get enough of Homestar Runner, his friends, and their crazy antics. Strongbad, the meticulously witty luchador and arguably the most popular character on the site, not only has his own email cartoon (now way over 200 cartoons available!) and spin off series, “Teen Girl Squad”, but he now gets his own point-and-click computer game as well.

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In another episodic downloadable extravaganza by Telltale games, “Strongbad’s Cool Game for Attractive People” perfectly captures the off-the-wall humour and all out zaniness of Strongbad and the whole Homestar Runner (HSR) gang, whilst also being an entertaining and comprehensive adventure as well. Behold as we delve deep into the “Bowels of Trogdor…”

Strongbad can be moved in all directions by pointing where you want him to go, and pressing the Wiimote’s A button. Whilst he can move in all directions in gloriously cartoon 3D, your viewpoint is generally from the side of the environment you are viewing. For example, walking around Strongbad’s house, you have a sort of “dolls house” view, where you can see into each room from an outside perspective, but still move Strongbad in three dimensions.

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The game replicates the style of the cartoons flawlessly. Every character looks exactly like their 2-D online counterpart, and all colours are beautifully basic and flat, just like it should be. Leave the game in a static position and you wouldn’t know that you weren’t watching the cartoon. Having the characters in 3D works very well too, no one is out of proportion and nothing looks “wrong” in spite of having an extra dimension added. Animations and environments are also as smooth as a baby’s backside. No graphical pop-up or anything. Kudos to Telltale for getting the image spot-on.

As far as point and click adventures go, this really doesn’t do anything new. Each episode finds Strongbad in all new awkward situation that is, more often than not, his own foolish fault, and it is up to him to get everything back to normal. You can walk around the different areas of “Free Country USA”, interacting with characters and picking up collectables.  Talking to the right people and presenting the right items at the right place will further the story, but only of course, if you’re doing the right thing. If you’re not then Strongbad will be very quick to tell you.

Talk to a character here and pick up an item there, then take said item to the previous character and you’ll get an idea of the gameplay on offer here. It’s by no means bad, it’s just not new. Some of the solutions to puzzles are a little odd, I found myself momentarily stumped on the odd occasion, but a little trial and error finds you the right thing to do, which is usually something utterly bonkers (see: filling a swimming pool with Jello mix). But isn’t that part of the charm?

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The reason Strongbad and the whole HSR universe is so popular is because of how wonderfully funny it is. From the brutal attacks on spelling errors and all things typographical to wonderfully detailed descriptions of otherwise uninteresting items, Strongbad leaves no stone unturned and almost nothing is sacred. The real gems come out when our plucky red hero’s imagination gets the better of him, and brilliantly enough, these are in plentiful supply. You can spend a good five minutes with the game and it is guaranteed to make you laugh. I can honestly say that, despite the “done-to-death” gameplay, I never found myself bored due to the sheer hilarity of the dialogue. All voices are provided by the makers of the HSR cartoons, and they clearly had a hell of a time writing it.

One of my favourite elements of the game is that there is actual replay value! Yes, as well as exploring the Strongbad universe and furthering the story, there are also a wealth of collectables and a few minigames to keep the gameplay varied. Bored of the main story? Have a go on “Snake Boxer 5” – the Fifth best Snake Punching game ever! Or why not create your own “Teen Girls Squad” cartoon and murder a few tweenagers? (Correct spelling – I assure you). The minigames and collectibles change from episode to episode so it doesn’t ever get stale.

The game comes in episodic fashion, with each “episode” providing a whole new story, but based around the same areas and characters. The format of the game never changes, but each episode brings a wealth of new jokes and minigames.

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Whilst it would be easy to say “if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all”, this really isn’t the case with the episodes found without the “season”. Although the format of the game never changes, the jokes and the different things that are available to do keep each episode fresh and are well worth the asking price. 1000 points might seem like a lot for each episode, considering that they can each be completed in only a few hours, but there is no other Wiiware title that’ll have you in juice-out-of-the-nostrils laughter for that level of time either.

If you’re not a HSR fan, or you don’t really “get” the humour, then there’s not a lot on offer here for you. Fans of the point-and-click genre aren’t going to find anything to write home about, but if, like me, you are a fan of the series and love a good giggle, then you may well have struck videogame gold.

Hi-Score – Presented exactly like the cartoons, delightfully funny, lots of extras to keep things interesting.

Lo-Score – Does nothing new for the genre, each episode is quite short.

Final Score – 8 out of 10

Ghostbusters

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Just to let my faithful readers that my review of Ghostbusters is up at Resolution, here’s an excerpt;

Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost? Who ya gonna call? Well, in the case of the new Ghostbusters game, Terminal Reality. For a company with only a very small handful of “hits” – Bloodrayne, Metal Slug Anthology, Monster Truck Madness – this Texan developer has a weight on its shoulders the size of a big Twinkie. Read it in full HERE